By MICHAEL G. MANES
Manes and Associates
Doug Talbot was a friend, respected colleague, the father of the Louisiana High Risk Health pool, and by his own definition a “rich, arrogant, a**h***.” Then he was diagnosed with cancer and lost his health insurance and became in his own words, “humble, really quick.” He spent much of his last years working with cancer survivors. He believed “stress” was a factor in causing cancer.
If any of you are regular visitors to the Big Easy (New Orleans), you probably have seen one of Doug’s eateries in the French Quarter. They are called Lucky Dogs.
Today and for the foreseeable future our worlds will be more chaos than calm, more challenging than comfortable, and more high-risk than inside our comfort zone.
Most of us are in the business of risk. Most started out selling insurance and have evolved into risk managers, insurance professionals, consultants or advisors. I taught Risk and Insurance at LSU from 1988 to 1998. My opening statement in each first class included:
“Risk is uncertainty. Uncertainty is the difference between good results and bad results. Management is control. Risk management is about control of uncertainty. We work to help our clients avoid, reduce, assume, and transfer risks based upon the potential frequency and severity of each exposure. We seek to maximize the good and minimize the bad in their worlds and in their lives.”
We are at our best when our clients are at their worse. As folks in the business of bad news, here’s the challenge today and tomorrow: Current trends indicate that many of the perils, exposures, risks and concerns that dominated yesterday will not be the most serious threats tomorrow.
My question is simple: Are we ready for tomorrow’s new risks that we aren’t familiar with today? Are they insurable? National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was just stumbling into our lives in 1973 when I started in the business. The administrative and bureaucratic chaos that accompanied this program’s rollout was often worse than the water damage.
In less than five minutes this morning, I jotted a list of issues, risks and disasters that are fresh in everyone’s mind but really weren’t consuming concerns in the good old days. I encourage you to add to the list based upon your experience, location, demographics and expertise. Then, prepare your responses to these issues.
–CRT (Critical Race Theory): Google it, understand it, disagree with it, agree with it, or whatever you choose to do. Nonetheless, know that it will impact our futures as we move forward. What we do is influenced by social issues as much as the weather.
–Climate Change: Texas and north Louisiana last year saw cold temperatures unknown in the Deep South. For a few days the entire state of Texas was a Deep Freeze. Before global warming became the crisis du jour, some warned of the coming Ice Age. Who knows? When you speak of climate change consider both extremes.
In 2020 Houston was flooded. Houston is one of the most dynamic cities in this country and this world. Its citizenry can and will recover. Is Global Warming going to make Houston-type floods the new normal? Could your community survive this? If your town is not alive and well when bad times hit, will your citizens stay or leave? Will it be wise for your residents to move to places like Houston as a risk management strategy?
Could your community survive the year Lake Charles had? See the headline: Louisiana city battered by extreme weather, again. Two big hurricanes, a paralyzing deep freeze and now flooding rainfall — Is Lake Charles’ year an omen of a deepening crisis? (The Guardian)
–Lockdown: Consequences of the lockdown demonstrated what people will do to protect themselves from new unknowns. Can this risk be managed? If not, can it be insured?
Who will surrender? Who will fight on?
–Chaos in Commerce: Oldsmobile no longer exists; GM took bankruptcy; AIG died and recovered. ENRON died but EOG (Enron Oil and Gas) survived and prospered. Tell me again about safe risks.
–Crime: I live in New Iberia, Louisiana. We didn’t have a lock on the door of our house when I was growing up. Momma finally bought a “skeleton key” in the late 1960s. That key could open our door and every other door on the street, and our neighbors’ keys could open our door. How safe do you feel in your home, neighborhood, Main Street, or church? Many now have dead bolt locks, alarms, security cameras and/or guns.
Minutes ago, the news showed shoplifters carrying out merchandise under $900 in value from stores in Los Angeles. The limit for theft without consequences there is $900. When I was growing up, there was a popular TV program, Truth or Consequences. Now consequences appear to be on life support, and that is the truth!
I visited Portland and the Great Northwest many times from 1998 to 2012. Occasionally I ventured to Seattle. I walked by myself downtown, the same downtowns that were ravaged by peace loving liberals. I walked after dark. I was never afraid. Now at home, I worry about the survival of our society.
MICHAEL G. MANES is the owner of Manes and Associates, a New Iberia-based consulting business. He can be reached at email@example.com or 337-577-3885.